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notes on ...

Notes on "Savoy Truffle"


Notes on ... Series #153 (ST)
  by Alan W. Pollack
       Key: G Major
     Meter: 4/4
      Form: Intro  | Verse | Refrain |
            Intro' | Verse | Refrain | Bridge |
                   | Verse (instrumental) | Refrain | Bridge |
                   | Verse | Refrain | Outro (with complete ending)
        CD: "White Album", Disc 2, Track 10 (Parlophone CDS7 46443-8)
  Recorded: 3rd, 5th October 1968, Trident Studios;
            11th, 14th October 1968, Abbey Road 2
UK-release: 22nd November 1968 (LP "White Album")
US-release: 25th November 1968 (LP "White Album")

General Points of Interest


Style and Form

  Next note In the true "White Album" spirit of masquerading in diverse musical styles, we find George here turning in a heavily syncopated, bluesy, rock and roller that has a strong contemporary dance band undercurrent. The preachy lyrics though are a Harrisonian dead give-away if you ask me.

Melody and Harmony

  Next note The musical vocabulary here is split down the middle between stylized blues and a more progressive harmonic style that makes you feel constantly on the move, on the threshold of some new breakthrough.
  Next note The blues show up from the extent to which the progression I -» IV -» V creates an harmonic backbone for the song in spite of the use of several other chords. You also find heavy use of the almost-minor blue third in the tune pitted against the Major I chord, as well as the flat seventh showing up repeatedly in the saxophones.
  Next note What I call the progressive style is found in the signature use here of root chord progressions of either Major orminor thirds, using chords that are not indigenous to the home key. This effect is further enhanced by the use of chromatic scale riffs to bridge the chords.
  Next note The tonal "rule book" says that the home key of this song "must be" G Major because that's the key in which we end, but it's somewhat beside the point. The song spends most of its life in the parallel key pair of E Major / e minor, with the shift to the relative Major key of G at the end of the refrain a bit of a non sequitur. There are other Beatles' songs that exploit this triumvirate of keys (i.e. a parallel Major/minor pair and the relative Major), but never quite with such audacity.


  Next note The backing track contains the predictable elements of guitar, drums and bass, but what you remember most vividly after the fact is the saxophone section which alternates between jazzy obbligato licks in unison, and syncopated mass chords.
  Next note It sounds like George handles the vocal chores entirely by himself, double tracked for the most of the verses and the two bridges, and harmonizing for the all of the refrains and a couple of verses.
  Next note Paul's bassline is a perpetual motion tour de force that sounds as though it attempts to double with the sax part here and there.
  Next note A couple of not so random details:
  • All the refrains feature chordal accents from the brass and keyboard on the off-beats of "two" and "four", but in only the second refrain, the guitar provides its own antiphonal accents on "one" and "three".
  • Someone (Paul?) is heard shouting "wooh" in the last measure of the second and the final verse.

Section-by-Section Walkthrough



  Next note A couple beats of drum fill are followed by two measures of vamping on the E-Major chord.


  Next note The verses are twelve measures long, built out of three phrases roughly parallel in shape. Each starts with some jump down and ends with an chromatic wiggle upward.
      |E       |-       |-       |-       |
   E:  I

      |F#      |-       |A       |-       |
       V-of-V            IV

      |G       |-       |B       |-       |
       flat-III          V

   [Figure 153.1]
  Next note The first pair of verses cheat by dropping a beat from the first measure. This unusual effect ironically makes it sound like George is dramatically holding back at that point in spite of the fact that, strictly speaking, he's rushing ahead by a single heartbeat.
  Next note Your X-ray hearing demonstrates how the sequence of I -» IV -» V is deployed as the harmonic backbone of this section, with the F#- and G-Major chords working as helpers. Note how neither of the latter are part of the E Major home key, and how each of them is entered by root motion of a whole tone; upward in the first case, and downward in the second.
  Next note The overall harmonic shape of the verse is wide open, ending on V.
  Next note The second verse is preceded by a repeat of the two-measure intro vamp.


  Next note The refrain is a simple, single four-measure phrase:
      |e       |-       |C7      |G       |
   e:  i                 VI
                     G:  IV       I

   [Figure 153.2]
  Next note The home key changes to the parallel minor key making it all the easier to modulate to the relative Major key of G. The latter is established only by the relatively weak plagal cadence.


  Next note The bridge is eight measures long and contains an AA repeat of a single phrase:
        ----------------------- 2X ------------------------
       |e           |A           |e     A     |G     B     |
    e:  i            IV           i     IV     flat- V

   [Figure 153.3]
  Next note Again the harmonic shape is wide open and determined by I -» IV -» V. The start off on e-minor makes the Major IV chord sound somewhat modal. In context, you'd never believe that the G chord in this section is the same one that shows up at the end of the refrain.
  Next note The last two measures of the above phrase are perhaps the most strongly syncopated ones on the whole track.


  Next note The outro is just one last appearance of the refrain; its fifth.
  Next note By this point of the song you are so accustomed to hearing the fourth beat of the last measure filled in as a pickup to the next section that when it is left entirely silent at the very end you almost fall out of your seat.

Some Final Thoughts

  Next note And then there's the ambiguously erotic line: "I feel your taste all the time we're apart." I suppose that's included to keep you ever so slightly off balance from complacently accepting the song as entirely about entirely concerned with a virtual addition to candy bars. Perhaps I am projecting.
  Alan (062898#153)
Copyright © 1998 by Alan W. Pollack. All Rights Reserved. This article may be reproduced, retransmitted, redistributed and otherwise propagated at will, provided that this notice remains intact and in place.